We had dinner at Pension Ivatan the night before and we promised to come back for breakfast. It was very convenient too since it was located just across the airport. As in walk out of the gate of the airport and cross the street and you’re at Pension Ivatan.
For anyone planning a trip to Batanes, here are some tips and links to help you out.
How to get there?
The only airline that flies to Batanes is SEAIR. Because they have the monopoly on this route be prepared for flight delays or cancellations. There are only two flights a day and very few seats on the small plane. The fare is very expensive too at P15,327.00 (as of July 2011) for a round trip flight.
When to go?
March to May is the summer months. It’s usually hot and dry but when we went last April it was windy and quite pleasant for a couple of days. June to October is the rainy season but I heard everything is more beautiful then. November to February brings super windy and cool weather.
Where to stay?
There are several small inns to stay at. For P1,000 ($24) a night per person I recommend staying at Batanes Resort, a government owned “resort”. It was very basic and clean enough. It also had my basic requirements like air conditioning, hot water in the shower even candles for the occasional power outage. The best thing was the view of the sea and the very spacious property and public spaces.
If you want the best view, best rooms and best food the only option is to stay at Fundacion Pacita. But be prepared to pay from P4,860 to P11,700 ($100-273) for a room. You really get what you pay for.
For a cheaper option you can also rent a room at a traditional house called home stays. When my friend Raymond goes to Batanes he stays at Babat’s residence you can book it through Helen Aberilla +63921-718-2290. A room costs only P250 per night with no air conditioning, just a fan. If no one else rents the other 2 bedrooms then you’ll have the whole 2 story house to yourself. The caveat is there is only one working bathroom in the house.
How to see the best of Batanes?
In my opinion the best way to see Batanes is to hire a tour guide and a van. Our tour guide Chris was recommended to us by a friend. I think 4 days and 3 nights was enough to see the most important parts of Batanes.
You can contact Ivatanya c/o Chris at:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Ivatanya’s 4 days & 3 night package w/o lodging:
Included are tours of Batan and Sabtand islands, full board meals, transportation, tour guide, tour fees, boat & airport transfers.
3 pax – P7,200 per head ($167)
4-5 pax – P6,200 per head ($145)
6 and up – P5,200 per head ($121)
Another option is hiring a jeepney to take you around. My friend Raymond suggested the guy he uses whenever he goes to Batanes. He can drive you around Batan (main island) at the rate of P2,000 per 8 hours. Make to book Alvin’s services in advance. There are only a few jeepneys for hire in Batan island and believe it or not there is color coding there.
Alvin Lizardo +63909-990-7782 (jeepney for hire)
For single travelers I saw some tourists being ferried around the back of a motorcycle.
How much did our trip cost?
We spent an average of P14,000 per person for 4 days and 3 nights including airfare, lodging and tours. We saved on airfare due to the promotion of SEAIR at a recent travel fair. There were 5 adults and 3 kids in our group so our cost for the tour package was lower.
Where to eat?
The food in Batanes is fresh and simple. Definitely not gourmet. The best meal we had was at Fundacion Pacita and the Ivatan platter at Pension Ivatan is not to be missed. If you don’t call ahead and order the food most meals will take at least 30-45 minutes to be served. Roadside carinderias (small eateries) will provide fast and cheap meals. You must try the coconut crab and lonyes/lunies/lunis (Ivatan fried pork).
What to wear?
Your best bet are shorts or lightweight pants, cotton shirts and a light windbreaker. I suggest wearing a sturdy pair of waterproof sandals that will take you from trekking on slippery hills to riding on a falowa (banca). I don’t advice wearing flip flops. They’re too unstable for the uneven hills.
What to bring?
- Lots of cash! They don’t accept credit cards in Batanes.
- Bring your best digital camera and extra memory cards. You will definitely take hundreds of pictures. A video camera is also a good option.
- Sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen are definitely a must. I got sunburn on my neck and upper back from sitting for a thirty minutes at the Chawa view deck.
- Insect repellant to ward off the giant bug assortment in Batanes.
Tips on going to Sabtang Island:
- Sit at the front or back of the falowa (banca) to avoid the noxious fumes from the diesel engine.
- Take Bonamine an hour before the boat ride to avoid seasickness.
- Wear a windbreaker to protect yourself against the waves.
- Pack your gear in a dry bag or big plastic bag to keep your expensive camera and bags dry.
- Make sure there is a return trip. Sometimes they have to cancel a trip back to Batan island due to bad weather. You may have to stay overnight in Sabtang island. It would be wise to pack a change of clothing too.
Now that’s you’ve seen my pictures and entries about Batanes and I’ve shared all the tips I remembered what are you waiting for? Start planning your own trip to see the Philippines’ own bet against Scotland and New Zealand.